The main components of all toothpastes: distilled water, abrasive, humidifiers, thickeners, foaming agents, as well as flavors, sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, etc. And they may also contain such controversial substances as fluorine and triclosan. Each component has its own purpose.
So that the paste cleanses
Abrasive can be considered the main and mandatory component of any toothpaste, because it gives the product cleansing and polishing properties. It makes up from 10 to 50% of the total mass of the paste.
Now two main types of abrasives are used: with calcium content and without calcium content. Among the calcium components, calcium carbonate, that is, chalk, remains popular. It has a low cost and high cleaning capacity. However, the excellent cleansing qualities of chalk are a double—edged sword. This abrasive works well in pastes for smokers, actively helping to rid teeth of unpleasant plaque, but at the same time, the high abrasion ability of chalk does not allow its use in children’s toothpastes. In addition, free calcium ions are able to interact with fluoride ions, which reduces the concentration of active fluorine and thus worsens the beneficial properties of pastes with fluorine.
An alternative to chalk as an abrasive in fluorinated pastes is usually silicon dioxide. Titanium dioxide also has an effective cleaning, without scratching. Pastes for sensitive teeth should not contain coarse chalk, but such gentle abrasives as silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide.
Abrasiveness is measured by a special index RDA (RDA, Radioactive Dentin Abrasion). This is an indicator of the erasability of tooth enamel.
Here are the maximum permissible values of the RDA:
pastes for children — 20-30,
pastes for sensitive teeth — 25-60,
pastes for adults — 80-100,
pastes for smokers — 120-150.
Note, by the way, that if chalk is included in the paste, then its RDA indicator will be 60-250 units, so it is clear that there should be no chalk in children’s pastes.
So that the paste does not dry out
Humidifiers (or moisture-retaining substances) can make up from 20 to 70% of the paste composition. Their purpose is to preserve water in the paste, to maintain the creamy state of the product, that is, to prevent the paste from drying out. In this capacity, instead of expensive glycerin, another polyatomic alcohol is increasingly used — sorbitol (by the way, the same substance serves as a sugar substitute for diabetic patients), or polyethylene glycol (PEG). Both supplements are considered safe.
So that the paste does not flow
Thickeners (or gel-forming substances) make up from 0.5 to 20% of the paste composition. They give the product viscosity and plasticity, that is, they serve to ensure that the paste is easily squeezed out of the tube, but also does not spread on the brush. By the way, these same agents often reduce the degree of abrasiveness of toothpaste. The gel-forming agent is often carboxymethylcellulose (food additive E466), or natural resins of the heteropolysaccharide group.
To make the paste foam
Foaming substances contribute, as is clear from the term, to the formation of stable foam. Sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate (otherwise — sodium lauryl (laureth) sulfate — SLS) are usually used in this capacity. And its content in the paste can range from 1 to 5%. Meanwhile, according to some reports, these substances (they are also called surfactants – surfactants) can negatively affect the body. In particular, they dry out the mucous membrane of the mouth and increase pain in such diseases of the oral cavity as stomatitis, and can also cause eye diseases, contribute to hair loss. SLS is a frequent component of many detergents, including shampoos, soaps and shower gels.
Experts say that the content of SLS in toothpastes is low, so it is unlikely to cause serious harm to health. However, if in doubt, it is better not to buy toothpaste, in the description of the composition of which sodium lauryl sulfate is in one of the first places. The safe level is considered to be its content not higher than 3%.
If the exact content of SLS is not indicated on the package, use a different guideline. Choose a paste that foams worse than the rest.
There are other components in the composition of toothpastes that make many advocates of a healthy lifestyle claim that the harm from toothpaste exceeds its benefits.
So that the paste strengthens the enamel of the teeth
Fluorine. It contains the vast majority of toothpastes. Fluorides are added to pastes in various combinations, sometimes there may even be several components derived from fluorine in one paste. Do you want to know if there is fluoride in your pasta? Look for the following fluoride compounds in the composition: sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride, tin fluoride, aluminum fluoride, aminofluoride (olaflur).
The amount of fluoride is different in all pastes, it is indicated on the label as ppm. Usually the normal level is 1500 ppm (or 150 mg per 100 g), pastes with this level of fluoride content are safe for regular use. Reduced fluoride levels (including for primary school children) it is 500 ppm (or 50 mg per 100 g).
Why is fluoride added to toothpaste?
Advantages of fluorine:
fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger and harder, increases the resistance of the tooth to acids,
fluorine inhibits the reproduction of microbes, has an antiseptic effect.
Opponents of fluoride claim that its excess causes the destruction of teeth, leads to diseases of the brain, is able to change the structure of bone tissue.
Fluoride itself is very useful for tooth enamel, because it creates protection on the enamel and protects against caries. According to research, it is the use of fluoride toothpastes that reduces the risk of caries by 35-40%. Therefore, 95% of manufacturers of toothpastes — not only in the Russian Federation, but also abroad, use fluoride for the prevention of caries. This has been done since 1945, and there is no evidence that fluorides in pastes have provoked serious diseases.
Are fluoride toothpastes harmful to children
Excess fluoride is harmful only to children. By the time of teething, the child’s teeth are not yet sufficiently resistant to external adverse factors. And fluoride in this case contributes to the development of such a disease as dental fluorosis. Then babies have white or dark spots, grooves, and depressions on the surface of the enamel of teething teeth. Dental fluorosis is not dangerous for adults.
Therefore, pastes without flora are produced for children from 2 to 4 years old. By the age of 11-13, a child has permanent teeth, enamel and dentin are maturing, so from that moment on, you can use ordinary, adult pastes, including those with fluoride. In general, pre-school children and children of primary school age have their teeth brushed by their parents.
In any case, up to the age of 6, you need to control how the child brushes his teeth. Make sure that the child does not swallow the paste and rinses his mouth well after cleaning. It is also very important not to buy a paste with candy or sweet fruit flavors for a child — this makes the baby perceive the hygiene product as food and swallow it. It is better to choose a baby toothpaste with a neutral taste.
Dentists believe that toothpaste without fluoride should be used only in those regions where there is artificial fluoridation of water, and accordingly, the fluoride content in drinking water is increased.
At the same time, even regions with a reduced content of fluoride are distinguished.
However, if there is an excess of fluoride in drinking water, then the teeth first of all need calcium, which remineralizes the teeth, and also binds excess fluoride. Therefore, it is believed that calcium compounds such as calcium glycerophosphate, calcium lactate, calcium pantothenate, synthetic hydroxyapatite, calcium citrate must be present in the composition of toothpastes without fluoride.
So that the paste has an anti-inflammatory effect
Triclosan. It is part of many products — not only anti-inflammatory toothpastes, but also soaps, shampoos, rinses, floor cleaners and other things. It is an antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory agent. Triclosan increases resistance to caries and prevents periodontal diseases, affects the microflora of streptococcus, which forms dental plaques.
Opponents of triclosan remind that it is a broad—spectrum antiseptic, and therefore it is active not only in relation to caries, but also deadly for the so-called good microflora – this leads to dysbiosis of the oral cavity. In addition, uncontrolled use of funds with triclosan can lead to disorders of the endocrine system, the reproductive system, impairs the work of the heart muscles.